The DLR was ecstatic to find among its many talents an ability to cut circles through glass; this served it well when sneaking into Sadler’s Wells’ wonderful performance of Sylvie Guillem last night. The performance was made up of three acts, but it was the last one — Bye, choreographed by Mats Ek — that reached out into the audience to touch those without even much knowledge of contemporary dance.

Commissioned especially for Guillem, who is now in her 40s, the dance tells the story (are stories back in ballet? read more here) of a woman, in cardigan, knee-length skirt, and past the salad years of her life, who regains the verve of youth. It reminded the DLR of nothing so much as the set piece in War and Peace (high culture forms like ballet demand such comparisons) when the Countess Natasha, finding herself taking shelter in a peasant hut, suddenly breaks out, to the delight of her hosts, into a perfectly performed folk dance. The scene strikes a false note, but in so doing betrays the novelist’s utter and total love for his heroine, and is perhaps among the most memorable moments of that memorable book. Natasha’s dance is far in feeling and tempo from the modern shapes struck here by Guillem, but the same abandon and sudden wind of freedom coursed through the theatre. Brava!

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